Anthony Pettis prepares for the start of his lightweight bout against Carlos Diego Ferreira during UFC 246
Anthony Pettis set to make his PFL debut on April 23rd Getty Images | Steve Marcus


  • The 2021 PFL season begins on April 23rd
  • Anthony Pettis vs. Clay Collard headlines PFL 1 on April 23
  • Rory MacDonald vs. David Michaud is the main event of PFL 2 on April 29

Two of the Professional Fighters League’s most highly-anticipated newcomers will be headlining the first two events of their upcoming 2021 season, which kicks off this coming April.

Former UFC and WEC lightweight champion Anthony “Showtime” Pettis will be making his promotional debut when he meets Clay Collard in the headlining lightweight bout of PFL 1, which happens on Friday, April 23rd.

Pettis is coming off a near-decade long run in the UFC, where he captured the promotion’s 155-pound title in 2013.

He has wins over top-tier fighters such as Benson Henderson, Donald Cerrone, Gilbert Melendez, Charles Oliveria and Stephen Thompson. He signed with the PFL in December 2020.

Collard, meanwhile, is a veteran of almost 30 professional MMA fights, including a four-fight run in the UFC.

The Payson, Utah native signed with the promotion in March 2020 but was unable to make his promotional debut due to PFL’s 2020 season being postponed because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

To stay active throughout 2020, Collard competed in professional boxing, going 5-2 in seven bouts.

Also on the card, PFL champions Natan Schulte and Lance Palmer begin their title defenses.

Complete PFL 1 Fight Card

Anthony Pettis vs. Clay Collard PFL

ESPN 2 Card

Anthony Pettis vs. Clay Collard

Natan Schulte vs. Marcin Held

Movlid Khaybulaev vs. Jason Soares

Lance Palmer vs. Bubba Jenkins

ESPN+ Card

Loik Radzhabov vs. Johnny Case

Joilton Lutterbach vs. Olivier Aubin-Mercier

Akhmed Aliev vs. Mikhail Odintsov

Jo Sungbin vs. Tyler Diamond

Brendan Loughnane vs. Sheymon Moraes

“The PFL’s season kickoff on April 23 is one that is sure to be a showstopper and full of nonstop action,” said PFL CEO Peter Murray. “The talent that exists within these matchups is unparalleled and we can’t wait to see the outcome of each fight. The PFL is proud to kick off its season on ESPN and ESPN+ and we are excited for our fans, old and new, around the world to experience premium MMA content.”

Just six days later, the PFL cage goes up once again as PFL 2 takes place, headlined by former Bellator welterweight titleholder Rory MacDonald making his maiden appearance against David Michaud.

Referee Jason Herzog raises the hand of the new Welterweight World Champion Rory MacDonald after defeating Douglas Lima (red gloves) at Bellator 192 at The Forum
Referee Jason Herzog raises the hand of the new Welterweight World Champion Rory MacDonald after defeating Douglas Lima (red gloves) at Bellator 192 at The Forum Getty Images | Jayne Kamin-Oncea

A top contender in the UFC and a former world champion in Bellator, MacDonald is one of the PFL’s most notable new faces. The welterweight star signed with PFL back in December 2019, but his debut was pushed back due to the postponement of the 2020 season.

MacDonald has wins over the likes of Nate Diaz, BJ Penn, Tyron Woodley, Douglas Lima and Neiman Gracie.

A UFC and Bellator veteran himself, Michaud was a finalist in the 2019 season of PFL’s welterweight tournament, coming within just one win away from the world title and a million-dollar grand prize.

Also on the card, reigning champions Ray Cooper III and Emiliano Sordi also begin their respective title defenses.

PFL 2 Full Fight Card

ESPN 2 Card

Rory MacDonald vs. David Michaud

Ray Cooper III vs. Jason Ponet

Jordan Johnson vs. Tom Lawlor

Emiliano Sordi vs. Chris Camozzi

ESPN+ Card

Magomed Magomedkerimov vs. Joao Zeferino

Smealinho Rama vs. Jordan Young

Cezar Ferreira vs. Nick Roehrick

Gleison Tibau vs. Aleksei Kunchenko

Sadibou Sy vs. Nikolai Aleksakhin

Dan Spohn vs. Marthin Hamlet

“PFL 2 is sure to be a thrill and full of suspense,” Murray stated. “The world-class talent that these matchups offer is unmatched, and we can’t wait to see all of the action on April 29 on ESPN and ESPN+. This season will bring nonstop excitement and a world-class fan experience, and we can’t wait for it to begin.”